The Benefits of Gotu Kola

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More

Centella asiatica morning dew
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A member of the parsley family, gotu kola (Centella asiatica) has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India) to heal skin conditions such as psoriasis, fight mental fatigue, and treat asthma, fever, and stomach ulcers. Now sold as an herbal supplement, gotu kola is marketed as a memory-booster and natural remedy for anxiety and depression.

Health Benefits of Gotu Kola

Gotu kola has yet to be extensively researched, but a few studies have shown that the herb may have certain health benefits. 

1) Anxiety

Triterpenoids (a group of compounds found in gotu kola) may ease anxiety, according to a 2000 study. In an experiment involving 40 healthy adults, scientists discovered that those taking gotu kola were less likely to be startled by new noises. Since the "acoustic startle response" may be a marker of anxiety, the study's authors suggest that gotu kola could decrease anxiety symptoms.

2) Mood Disorders

In another small study, 28 older adults took gotu kola at various doses (250, 500, and 750 mg) once daily for two months. Results revealed that study members on the highest dose had improvements in mood, as well as memory and cognitive function.

3) Varicose Veins

A number of small studies indicate that gotu kola may stimulate circulation and help fight varicose veins and venous insufficiency (a condition that impairs the flow of blood through the veins).

Available Forms of Gotu Kola Extract

Available in most health food stores and shops that specialize in herbal remedies, gotu kola can be taken in capsule, tincture, or tea form. Ointments containing gotu kola are used to treat wounds and other skin problems.


Although side effects are rare, some people taking gotu kola may experience upset stomach, headache, and drowsiness. Because gotu kola can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, it's important to limit your sun exposure and use sunscreen while taking it.

Medical experts advise against using gotu kola if you have a history of squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell skin cancer, or melanoma. People with liver disease should also avoid gotu kola.

Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

Using Gotu Kola

Due to a lack of supporting research, it's too soon to recommend gotu kola for any health condition. If you're considering the use of gotu kola, talk with your primary care provider first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

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Article Sources
  • Bradwejn J, Zhou Y, Koszycki D, Shlik J. "A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study on the Effects of Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica) on Acoustic Startle Response in Healthy Subjects." Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 2000 20(6):680-4.
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  • MacKay D. "Hemorrhoids and Varicose Veins: a Review of Treatment Options." Alternative Medicine Review 2001 6(2):126-40.
  • Wattanathorn J, Mator L, Muchimapura S, Tongun T, Pasuriwong O, Piyawatkul N, Yimtae K, Sripanidkulchai B, Singkhoraard J. "Positive Modulation of Cognition and Mood in the Healthy Elderly Volunteer Following the Administration of Centella Asiatica." Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2008 5;116(2):325-32.